General Dynamics gets $50 million more for battlefield robotics

General Dynamics Robotics Systems of Westminster, Md., received $50.7 million in additional funding for its Army Future Combat Systems Autonomous Navigation System, designed to bring next-generation robotic ground vehicles to the battlefield to aid warfighters.

The increase was awarded by Future Combat System contractor Science Applications International Corp. and brings General Dynamics' total FCS contract value to $237 million. SAIC and Boeing Co. are lead systems integrators for FCS.

General Dynamics Robotic Systems, a unit of General Dynamics Corp., is designing and manufacturing a system that can autonomously control several of the 18 manned and unmanned ground vehicles that are part of the program. FCS ultimately will link 18 ground and air weapons systems and sensors on a common computer network.

The contractor will work on vehicles including the Multifunctional Utility Logistics Equipment (MULE) platform, Armed Reconnaissance Vehicle (ARV) and Manned Ground Vehicles (MGV).

The Autonomous Navigation System "will comprise field sensor and software solutions based on autonomous mobility technology," said Scott Myers, president of General Dynamics Robotic Systems. Myers said the ANS system -- the intelligence of FCS robotic vehicles -- will advance the Army's vision of a lighter, faster future force.

The modification will fund MULE prototypes that can move equipment and automate resupply. MULE and ARV will have a Global Positioning System that can locate and classify objects more than 80 meters away. The vehicles also use the Joint Tactical Radio System, linked to the FCS computer network.

The contract modification accelerates use of FCS technologies by Army forces, General Dynamics said.

The autonomous navigation system will provide navigational, perception, path-planning and vehicle-following algorithms and an on-board sensor package for autonomous mobility.

General Dynamics recently won three add-on contracts for its FCS work. The company's Land Systems division in Sterling Heights, Mich., won a $282 million modification to its $2 billion contract for engineering development and demonstration of a family of MGVs for FCS. The work will be done in Sterling Heights and Muskegon, Mich. and Woodbridge, Va.

In late April, General Dynamics and Rockwell Collins Inc., Cedar Rapids, Iowa, won a $153.9 million contract modification to speed development of the Integrated Computer System, the common computer environment for FCS.

The Integrated Computer System will be put into Abrams tanks, Bradley fighting vehicles, Strykers combat vehicles and Humvees.

General Dynamics is No. 5 on Washington Technology's Top 100 list of prime government IT contractors.

Dawn S. Onley is a senior writer with Government Computer News. She can be reached at donley@postnewsweektech.com.

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